Friday, March 4, 2011

"That's Mommy's Job"

We are having a bit of a hard time with the relationship between our son Jeffrey and my Mom. My Mom is always asking Jeffrey if he wants her to make him breakfast, fill his plate at dinner, and do other things to help take care of him. Jeffrey almost always says “no.” My Mom then feels bad, and thinks Jeffrey does not like her.

I talked to Jeffrey about this, and it is not that he does not like her. He does not want my Mom to start taking care of him because “that’s Mommy’s job.”
Jeffrey and Mommy. Photo by Jeff Norris.

I can see how hard it must be for him to move into a house with two more adults and want to keep the distinction between parents and grandparents. He wants to play games with my Mom and Dad and spend time with them, but he does not want them to care for him. He grew up for five years with Jeff and me as his only two adults, and he wants to make sure that he keeps a special relationship with us, as his parents. I think he also wants that special, fun, relationship that grandparents normally have with their grandkids.

We have explained to him that just because my Mom might do something Jeff and I normally do, that does not mean she would take our place. He understands that, but still  just wants us to take care of him.

My Mom can’t understand that just because Jeffrey turns down breakfast, that doesn’t mean he dislikes her. Jeffrey is not at the point where he can be comfortable with other people doing the things he considers his parents job to do. It makes him sad and scared to think someone else might take his parents place.

I could force Jeffrey to just say “yes” to Mom, which we have tried, but he gets very upset and cries. We have tried to encourage Mom to do the things Jeffrey likes to do with her, like play games. She does participate in those activities, but in her mind, those activities do not have value and do not show love.

How do we honor both of their emotional needs without hurting either one of them? I wish I had a good answer, but I don’t right now.